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EGS 3021F: Vulnerability to Environmental Change section Gina Ziervogel December 2011 This work by Gina Ziervogel.

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Presentation on theme: "EGS 3021F: Vulnerability to Environmental Change section Gina Ziervogel December 2011 This work by Gina Ziervogel."— Presentation transcript:

1 EGS 3021F: Vulnerability to Environmental Change section Gina Ziervogel ( December 2011 This work by Gina Ziervogel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

2  Concepts  Risk  Vulnerability  Conceptual approaches  Origin  Risk/Hazard  Political economy/ecology  Ecological resilience

3 ”Natural hazards are a part of life. But hazards only become disasters when people’s lives and livelihoods are swept away.” (Kofi Annan’s message for the International Day of Disaster Reduction, 2003) (

4  Sustainable development  interdependence of environment and development (Kasperson et al., 2005:162) Rio Declaration (1992) Principle 5 All States and all people shall cooperate in the essential task of eradicating poverty as an indispensable requirement for sustainable development, in order to decrease the disparities in standards of living and better meet the needs of the majority of the people of the world. ( =1163 ) =1163

5  Range of meanings and multiple dimensions  relate to safety, economic, environmental and social issues  Different meanings reflect the needs of particular decision-makers  Exposure to harm

6 Probability Theory dedicated to understanding whether events are random or happen by chance Von Bortkiewicz (1868 - 1931)  first known application of probability theory  soldiers dying in Prussia from horse kicks random or due to negligence of soldiers  20 years data  conclusion = random; no disciplinary action required (


8  What is vulnerability?  Susceptibility to loss  Shocks and stresses impact negatively  Understood by assessing the interaction of hazard/shock, impact and response  Vulnerability is dynamic (Leichenko and O'Brien 2002)  Over space and time  Concatenation of stresses By Gina Ziervogel

9 HAZARD VULNERABILITY Risk is the overlay of hazard and vulnerability Disasters are the realisation of risk Both hazard and vulnerability are changing

10 Origin: vulnerable – power to wound (OED online, accessed 8 November 2011) Multiple definitions: Your version Numerous ‘academic’ versions: has 30 definitions United Nations University — Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) – 39 definitions 39 definitions

11 Average income Low production No access to land; 3 family members work in non-farm services sector High income High production Low income Low production Low income High production A mixed farm in remote, fertile rural area, producing all the hh needs A household on ‘new’ fruit farm; depending on the exchange rate for their profitability Pensioner in a close- knit community with large family supporting each other Household 1 Household 2 Household 3Household 4 Downing, T. E.

12  Sharma et al 2000 (Sharma et al, 2001) By Gina Ziervogel

13  Who/what is vulnerable? ▪ livelihoods, sectors, ecosystems, regions  Vulnerable to what? ▪ changes in market relations and access, removal of subsidies or tariffs, exposure to market risks and fluctuations, implications of greater competition ▪ change in resource regimes, natural resource scarcity or degradation ▪ changes in social dynamics, access to information, political affiliation, prejudices

14 Stresses/threats : Climate trends & hazards Natural hazards Environmental hazards Health & disease Socio- economic risks Political & regulatory risks Multiple stresses Exposure unit: Demographic group: -Women -Elderly Scale: -Individual -Household -Community Economic group: -Livelihood -Sector Ecosystem System Consequences: Loss of life Loss of assets Loss of livelihood Psychological stress Social stress Social capital Multiple attributes Responses: Operational Strategic Policy/ regulatory Adaptive capacity TIME: Season/Decade….Trends/forecasts…scenarios Downing, T. E.

15  Poverty  “Well-being” of people as well as “enough” income  Measure of current status  Not hazard-specific  Vulnerability  Focus on social and economic obstacles  Forward-looking

16  Outcome vulnerability  A linear result of the projected impacts of climate change on a particular exposure unit, offset by adaptation measures [Disaster literature]  Contextual vulnerability  A processual and multidimensional view of climate-society interactions, where climate variability and change are considered to occur in the context of political, institutional, economic and social structures and changes [Vulnerability and adaptation literature] (O’Brien et al, 2007)

17 Vulnerability is comprised of three dimensions:  exposure to stresses, perturbations, and shocks;  sensitivity, of people, places, and ecosystems, to the stress or perturbation, including their capacity to anticipate and cope with the stress; and  resilience of the exposed people, places, and ecosystems, that is their ability to recover from the stress and to buffer themselves against and adapt to future stresses and perturbations. (Kasperson et al, 2005)

18  Risk  Hazard  Vulnerability  Dimensions  Approaches  Definitions

19 For Vulnerability Research


21 (Blaikie et al, 1994)

22 (Bohle et al, 1994)

23 (Kasperson et al, 2005: 147) Vulnerability to environmental change

24 “Vulnerability is a characteristic of all people, ecosystems, and regions confronting environmental or socio-economic stresses and, although the level of vulnerability varies widely, it is generally higher among poorer people” (Kasperson et al, 2001) Buzz group: When have you been vulnerable and why?

25  Blaikie, P., Cannon, T., Davis, I. and Wisner, B. 1994. At Risk: Natural Hazards, People’s Vulnerability, and Disasters. London: Routledge  Bohle, H. G., Downing, T. E. and Watts, M. J. 1994.Climate change and social vulnerability: Toward a sociology and geography of food insecurity. Global Environmental Change, 4(1): 37-48  Kasperson, R. E., Kasperson, J. X., and Dow, K. 2001. Vulnerability, equity, and global environmental change, in J. X. Kasperson and R. E. Kasperson (eds.), Global Environmental Risk, London: Earthscan  Kasperson, R. E., Archer, E., Caceres, D., Dow, K., Downing, T., Elmqvist, T., Folke, C., Han, G., Lyengar, K., Vogel, C., Wilson, K. and Ziervogel, G. 2005.Vulnerable people and places, in Hassan, R., Scholes, R. and Ash, N. (Eds),Ecosystems and Human-Well-being: Millennium Assessment Report: Current State and Trends. Washington DC: Island Press  Leichenko, R. M. and O’Brien K. L. 2002. The Dynamics of Rural Vulnerability to Global Change: The Case of Southern Africa. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 7: 1–18  O’Brien, K., Eriksen, S., Nygaard, L. P. and Schjolden, A. 2007. Why different interpretations of vulnerability matter in climate change discourses. Climate Policy, 7: 73-88  Sharma, M., Burton, I., van Aalst, M.K., Dilley, M. and Acharya, G. 2001. Reducing Vulnerability to Environmental Variability. Environment Strategy. Background Paper. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank, 5  All web links were checked in November 2011

26  Some slide material from Tom Downing

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